A Class Apart
Yahoos who attended this year’s Y! Summer School on Information Retrieval give it a big thumbs up! Find out why.
Yahoo!’s Summer School on Information Retrieval, driven by Yahoo! Labs Bangalore, was held between June 20 and 25, 2011 at IISc. The 200 participants at this event came from some of India's top campuses, the IT industry in Bangalore, and our very own India SDC. "Y! Summer School has evolved into an annual meeting ground for Indian academia and IT practitioners to learn about and discuss the state-of-the-art science behind recent Web technologies," says Muthusamy Chelliah, Head, Academic Relations, India. The event was held in partnership with IISc, which saw significant value in it. "This workshop (Summer School) splendidly supplements our teaching programs, by exposing our students to leading thought leaders and contemporary thinking in the area of IR," observes Prof Y. Narahari, Head - Computer Science and Automation, IISc.
The opportunity to learn about the very latest in the field of IR, from a world-renowned faculty, the choice of topics and catching up after-school with some of the best minds in the business, made this a valuable experience for the Yahoos who attended.
It was a good time to brush up on fundamentals and also learn some very interesting developments in the field of Information Retrieval. The topics had a lot of variety and all the speakers were really good. The panel discussion also had some very interesting and thought provoking discussions.
It was really good to understand the state of the art from true leaders in their field. It was a rejuvenating experience from an engineer's point of view. From product engineering organizations, we don't always spend time reading papers and catching up on the science advances being made in the field and this acted like a good checkpoint for that.
Our team was perhaps the one in most attendance since a lot of the work that we do (timesense, core, structured data extraction, WOO etc) falls right in the sweet spot of many of the discussions here. Apart from the sessions, we also found time to catch up with some of the speakers to inform them about some of our related work and hash together plans for how we can leverage some of their work for our problems.
The experience was amazing. Not just me, but every participant got a lot out of this experience. It was really nice to know about the nitty gritties of other components, while we work on our own. I do see us applying a lot of learnings to our daily work. The faculty was the best part of this Summer School. They were eminent personalities in their field and very engaging and encouraging. I especially liked Indexing by Ronny Lempel, Director, Y! Labs Israel and Retrieval Models by Mounia Lalmas, Principal Researcher, Yahoo! Research.
I’m interning with Yahoo! and the summer school was my first exposure to IR. It was very interesting. I got to know in detail how search systems work and how IR started. I also had the opportunity to personally interact with Prof. Mark Sanderson, RMIT University, Melbourne and Prof Mounia, and got inspired to do some work in IR. The lectures on IR Models and evaluation were very good and started right from the basics. I couldn't follow the Learning to Rank lecture because I don't have the background knowledge but I hope I'll take home some of the ideas and terms introduced there - I've heard that it is one of the parts of IR with lots of active research going on. I want to highlight that the speakers were very approachable and friendly.
I found Summer School extremely informative and educational. By far my favourite sessions were the IR relevance session by Mark Sanderson, the Index Compression session by Ronny and Learning to Rank session by Soumen Chakrabarti, Professor IIT Bombay. The school had something for both those who were trying to get a feel for information retrieval, and for those who have had some experience before and would like to explore more. The sequence in which the lectures were held was logical, so all the lectures connected pretty well with each other.
I am working on a small project along with an intern, where we are working on news personalization and ranking. Many of the ideas and tricks taught in the summer school could easily be applied to this project, especially ranking, measuring relevance and diversity.